25 June. A virtual conference was held this week to showcase pathways for supporting Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving a sustainable economic recovery.
The Conference brought together policy-makers (from ministries, central banks, regulators and the European Commission), as well as academics working on this subject, MSME finance advocates, and diverse market participants covering the whole eco-system (banks, microfinance institutions, investment funds, incubators, accelerators, fin-techs, leasing companies, credit guarantee companies, business angels, crowdfunding platforms, and development cooperation frameworks) and international financial institutions active in the region. There were also speakers and panelists representing institutions from regions outside the UfM, to share best practice and initiatives that could be replicated in the Mediterranean.
MSMEs are of paramount importance to any economy, as they contribute to economic development and job creation. Supporting small businesses has always been a key priority for the UfM: the flagship initiative Med4Jobs has supported over 800 MSMEs in the region so far. The main purpose of the event was to encourage countries to develop an environment more conducive to MSMEs development and growth by broadening the range of support available to them.
Discussion covered the need for governments and non-state actors to implement timely policies and measures to support MSMEs, and to harness opportunities such as digitalisation. Emphasis was made on climate change and associated risks, which threaten financial stability as well as development and poverty alleviation. With future crises, be in pandemic or another kind, all but certain, it is vital to design financial infrastructure and regulatory frameworks capable of absorbing the shock created by any future instability.
The event was held in partnership with GIZ, and the possibility of holding a second event as a follow-up will be explored. An outcome document will also be drafted to include the main messages and recommendations.